By Mc Noel Kasinja
Malawi National Council of Sports has expressed concern with pictures circulating on social media showing Malawi national netball team players and officials eating a meal under some trees at Bellville in Cape Town, South Africa.
The development came just hours after the Queens retained silver medals at the just ended Africa Netball Cup on Tuesday.
Reports indicate that the players received K35,000 each as allowance for the five-day tournament.
Malawi National Council of Sports Acting Executive Secretary, Henry Mereka, said the matter requires thorough investigations following a similar incident during the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England, in July.
Mereka said the Queens had been funded for the competition through Netball Association of Malawi (Nam).
“I was shocked when I saw those images circulating and I immediately called the officials demanding an explanation. They downplayed the matter, saying some Malawians who live in Cape Town prepared a local meal for the team.
“We gave them everything they had asked for. We agreed that the team would eat at its hotel. We will investigate the matter to establish the truth behind it,” he said.
Mereka said Nam’s K73 million budget covered both local and external expenses.
“We paid the accommodation costs directly into the hotel’s account. All other money, including allowances was channeled into Nam’s account,” he said.
Mereka said the matter requires thorough investigations as it had happened before.
“It is now a concern. The same thing happened at the World Cup. It seems people are soliciting money in the name of the Queens. We will demand a report from Nam. This is tarnishing the image of the Queens, as well as the government. We have reports that some quarters fundraise in the name of the Queens,” he said.
But Nam President, Khungekile Matiya, described the matter as unfortunate cheap propaganda.
“We would like to categorically refute the story being circulated through social media that the Queens were living on food bought from supermarket.
“The picture in question is showing some netball players and three officials relaxing under a tree after their game against Zimbabwe. The players and technical officials in the picture were meeting Malawians living in Cape Town who came to cheer the team and brought them some foodstuffs,” Matiya said.
She said Nam received funding for the trip from the government through Sports Council.
“The government, through Sports Council, funded the team’s travel, lodging and food as per our budget. The players are having their meals at Stayeasy Hotel where they are residing. They received their allowances for all the days they have been here,” Matiya said.
The team is expected to arrive in the country through Kamuzu International Airport today.